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After a historic semi-final, India qualified for the final of the Cricket World Cup at the expense of its Pakistani neighbor. The Indians will meet Sri Lanka, falling from New Zealand, on Saturday.
AFP – India defeated Pakistan on Wednesday in the Cricket World Cup semi-finals, following a shocking encounter between the two rival South Asian countries which was used by their leaders to try to win. » improve strained diplomatic relations.
After more than eight hours of a duel feverishly watched by hundreds of millions of viewers, the Indian team finally snatched the victory by 29 runs, igniting a wave of euphoria in the stadium of Mohali, in the north of the India, and everywhere else in the country.
India, which has already won the World Cup in 1983, will face Sri Lanka in the final on Saturday in Bombay.
The India-Pakistan semi-final, the first in the history of competition, has gone far beyond the boundaries of sport in view of the shared history of the two enemy brothers.
India and Pakistan, born of the botched partition of the British Indian Empire in 1947, fought three bloody wars, including two over Kashmir, before restarting in 2004 a difficult peace process.
The Bombay attacks in November 2008 (166 dead), attributed to an Islamist commando based in Pakistan, again froze discussions.
After months of cautious approach, foreign ministers agreed to meet in July to restart dialogue.
In an opening gesture, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yusuf Raza Gilani were present side by side for the kick-off of the match at 2:30 p.m. local (0900 GMT) in the 30,000-seater stadium of Mohali, located in the Indian state of Punjab bordering Pakistan.
After the anthem of their respective country, they came down together on the field to exchange handshakes with the players of both teams.
The two, who had not met since April 2010, also dined together for informal talks while awaiting the end of the match which ended well after dark.
After their meeting, Singh said « permanent reconciliation » was needed with Pakistan.
The two countries « should work together to find cooperative solutions and the necessary permanent reconciliation to live together in dignity and honor, » he said.
« We should put our old animosities behind us to address the problems of our nations, » he added.
Indian Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Nirupama Rao, for her part, said that a « spirit of Mohali » had blown through the two countries and that the match had « provided momentum » to consolidate bilateral relations.
In India, many companies had offered to their employees to take their half-day while in Pakistan, the Prime Minister had immediately decreed a half-day of national leave to follow this « match of the Titans », like the nicknamed the Indian press.
In the stadium, the supporters in the blue jersey of the Indian team were largely in the majority among a few dozen Pakistani jerseys and the spirit remained good-natured, faithful to the « fair play » tradition of cricket.
« This is one of those rare opportunities that we have to use to make friends. If one day I meet someone from Pakistan, I will invite them home for a cup of tea, » said Barkha Sen. , a 40-year-old Indian businessman, interviewed in the stands by AFP.
In many Indian cities, such as New Delhi, residents had suddenly deserted the streets early in the afternoon, making traffic extremely fluid. India’s victory was greeted with fireworks that were to last late into the night in the country of 1.2 billion people.